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John R. Sirard, Stewart G. Trost, Karin A. Pfeiffer, Marsha Dowda and Russell R. Pate

Background:

The purposes of this study were 1) to establish accelerometer count cutoffs to categorize activity intensity of 3 to 5-y old-children and 2) to evaluate the accelerometer as a measure of children’s physical activity in preschool settings.

Methods:

While wearing an ActiGraph accelerometer, 16 preschool children performed five, 3-min structured activities. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analyses identified count cutoffs for four physical activity intensities. In 9 preschools, 281 children wore an ActiGraph during observations performed by three trained observers (interobserver reliability = 0.91 to 0.98).

Results:

Separate count cutoffs for 3, 4, and 5-y olds were established. Sensitivity and specificity for the count cutoffs ranged from 86.7% to 100.0% and 66.7% to 100.0%, respectively. ActiGraph counts/15 s were different among all activities (P < 0.05) except the two sitting activities. Correlations between observed and ActiGraph intensity categorizations at the preschools ranged from 0.46 to 0.70 (P < 0.001).

Conclusions:

The ActiGraph count cutoffs established and validated in this study can be used to objectively categorize the time that preschool-age children spend in different physical activity intensity levels.

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Yi-nam Suen, Ester Cerin and Sin-lung Wu

Background:

Regular participation in physical activity (PA) can help reduce the risk of overweight/obesity. Parental practices related to PA are modifiable determinants of preschoolers’ PA that are still not well understood, especially in non-Western cultures. This qualitative explorative study aimed to identify parental practices encouraging or discouraging PA in Hong Kong preschoolers.

Methods:

Nominal Group Technique (NGT) sessions (n = 45; 6 to 9/group), complemented by a focus group (n = 6) and individual interviews (n = 12), were conducted with primary caregivers (mainly parents) of Hong Kong preschoolers to investigate what parents do to encourage (4 groups) and discourage (2 groups) PA in children. The groups were stratified by low and high neighborhood socioeconomic status. Results: Participants generated 21 and 16 items describing practices encouraging and discouraging preschoolers’ PA, respectively. Parental provision of instrumental, motivational, and conditional support were thought to encourage child’s PA, while parental safety concerns, focus on academic achievement, lack of time and resources, and promotion of sedentary behaviors were thought to discourage child’s PA.

Conclusions:

Several parental practices that were deemed to encourage or discourage Hong Kong preschoolers’ PA were identified. These can assist with development of a culturally sensitive scale of PA parenting practices and inform future quantitative research.

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Don W. Morgan

A growing body of literature has confirmed the health benefits of regular physical activity in school-aged youth. However, less systematic attention has been directed toward establishing activity profiles and evaluating the impact of community-based interventions designed to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior in preschool children. In this paper, current findings are reviewed to determine whether preschoolers are achieving sufficient levels of structured and unstructured physical activity and to identify potential correlates of activity and sedentary behavior in the young child. In addition, promotion of physical activity among preschool-aged children in selected community settings is discussed and future research initiatives are highlighted. Given current trends in the overweight and obesity status of children aged two to five years, efforts aimed at increasing physical activity levels and documenting gains in health-related fitness and movement skillfulness in this pediatric population should be accelerated.

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Stewart G. Trost, Bronwyn Fees and David Dzewaltowski

Background:

This study evaluated the effect of a “move and learn” curriculum on physical activity (PA) in 3- to 5-year-olds attending a half-day preschool program.

Methods:

Classrooms were randomized to receive an 8-week move and learn program or complete their usual curriculum. In intervention classes, opportunities for PA were integrated into all aspects of the preschool curriculum, including math, science, language arts, and nutrition education. Changes in PA were measured objectively using accelerometry and direct observation.

Results:

At the completion of the 8-week intervention, children completing the move and learn curriculum exhibited significantly higher levels of classroom moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than children completing their usual curriculum. Significant differences were also noted for classroom VPA over the final 2 weeks.

Conclusion:

The results suggest that integrating movement experiences into an existing early childhood curriculum is feasible and a potentially effective strategy for promoting PA in preschool children.

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Fiona J. Connor-Kuntz and Gail M. Dummer

Children age 4 to 6 years from special education (n = 26), Head Start (n = 35), and typical preschool classes (n = 11) were assigned to a physical activity intervention or a language-enriched physical activity intervention. Language and motor skill performances were measured before, immediately following, and 3 months following the 24-session, 8-week intervention. Results illustrated that language instruction can be added to physical education lessons without requiring additional instructional time and, more importantly, without compromising improvement in motor skill performance. Further, preschool children exposed to language-enriched physical education improved their language skills regardless of whether their educational progress was characterized by a cognitive and/or language delay. Thus, physical activity appears to be an effective environment in which to enhance the cognitive development of preschool children of all abilities.

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Lauriece L. Zittel

Accurate gross motor assessment of preschool children with special needs is necessary for quality intervention. This paper will identify critical factors for the selection of a preschool gross motor assessment instrument. Nine commercially available tools that purport to measure gross motor skill are critiqued, in table form, according to identified criteria. The criteria include purpose of the assessment, technical adequacy of the tool, nondiscriminatory factors, administrative ease, instructional link, and ecological validity of the instrument. Key features within each of the criteria will be used to review and analyze each instrument. This review illustrates that assessment tools vary in their ability to meet the assessment needs of preschool children suspected of having motor delays, and such tools therefore must be carefully selected.

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Anders Raustorp, Peter Pagels, Cecilia Boldemann, Nilda Cosco, Margareta Söderström and Fredrika Mårtensson

Background:

It is important to understand the correlates of physical activity (PA) to influence policy and create environments that promote PA among preschool children. We compared preschoolers’ PA in Swedish and in US settings and objectively examined differences boys’ and girls’ indoor and outdoor PA regarding different intensity levels and sedentary behavior.

Methods:

Accelerometer determined PA in 50 children with mean age 52 months, (range 40–67) was recorded during preschool time for 5 consecutive weekdays at 4 sites. The children wore an Actigraph GTIM Monitor.

Results:

Raleigh preschool children, opposite to Malmö preschoolers spent significantly more time indoors than outdoors (P < .001). Significantly more moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) was observed outdoors (P < .001) in both settings. Malmö children accumulated significantly more counts/min indoors (P < .001). The percent of MVPA during outdoor time did not differ between children at Raleigh and Malmö.

Conclusion:

Physical activity counts/minutes was significantly higher outdoors vs. indoors in both Malmö and Raleigh. Malmö preschoolers spent 47% of attendance time outdoors compared with 18% for Raleigh preschoolers which could have influenced the difference in preschool activity between the 2 countries. Time spent in MVPA at preschool was very limited and predominantly adopted outdoors.

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Greet Cardon and Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij

In this study, daily step counts were recorded for 4 consecutive days in 129 four- and five-year-old children. To compare daily Yamax Digiwalker step counts with minutes of engagement in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), concurrent accelerometer data were collected in a random subsample (n = 76). The average daily step count was 9,980 (± 2,605). Step counts and MVPA minutes were strongly correlated (r = .73, p < .001). The daily step count of 13,874, equating to 1-hr MVPA engagement, was reached by 8% of the children. Daily step counts in preschool children give valid information on physical activity levels—daily step counts in preschoolers are low.

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Shannon Titus Dieringer, David L. Porretta and Diane Sainato

The purpose of our study was to determine the effect of music (music with lyrics versus music with lyrics plus instruction) relative to on-task behaviors in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a gross motor setting. Five preschool children (4 boys, 1 girl) diagnosed with ASD served as participants. A multiple baseline across participants in conjunction with an alternating-treatment design was used. For all participants, music with lyrics plus instruction increased on-task behaviors to a greater extent than did music with lyrics. The results of our study provide a better understanding of the role of music with regard to the behaviors of young children with ASD.

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Ellen De Decker, Kylie Hesketh, Marieke De Craemer, Trina Hinkley, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Jo Salmon and Greet Cardon

Background:

Television viewing is highly prevalent in preschoolers (3–5 years). Because of the adverse health outcomes related to this behavior, it is important to investigate associations and mediators of young children’s television viewing time. This study investigated whether parental rules regarding television viewing time and parental concerns about screen viewing activities mediated the association between parents’ and preschoolers’ television viewing time.

Methods:

Mediation analyses were performed with the product-of-coefficient test on data derived from the Australian HAPPY study (n = 947) and the Belgian sample of the ToyBox-study (n = 1527). Parents reported their own and their child’s television viewing time, their rules regarding television viewing and concerns about their child’s screen viewing activities.

Results:

Parents’ television viewing time was directly associated with preschoolers’ television viewing time and parental rule for television viewing time mediated this association in both samples (14.4% and 8.1% in the Australian and Belgian samples, respectively).

Conclusions:

This study is unique in examining the mediating pathway of parental television viewing and a rule limiting TV viewing time and whether this is consistent in different samples. Due to the consistent importance, both parents’ television viewing time and rules should be targeted in interventions to decrease preschoolers’ television viewing time.